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Jennifer Garner is quietly working with Republicans to end childhood poverty

Actress Jennifer Garner is one of the few Hollywood stars actually putting their platforms to good use. (Photo via AP)

Actress Jennifer Garner is one of the few Hollywood stars actually putting their platforms to good use. (Photo via AP)

While tabloid rumors swirl around Jennifer Garner, she is hard at work on a high-drama project over two thousand miles away from her home in Los Angeles. Her co-stars? Republicans in Congress.

The actress testified before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies subcommittee on March 16th in her role as trustee and ambassador for Save the Children. This was no drive-through press stunt for Garner; in fact, it wasn’t even her idea. The Committee’s chair, Tom Cole (R-OK), invited her to testify.

Her remarks were deeply emotional, including the story of a home visit Garner went on in California where a young child was just learning to babble and interact with his mother.

“One-in-five children in this country live in the kind of poverty that they could enter kindergarten never having seen a book. It’s easy to escape responsibility for disgrace like that by blaming the parents. ‘Who doesn’t talk to a child or sing to a child?'” Garner said to Congress.

“I’ll tell you who: parents who have lived their whole lives with the stresses that come with food scarcity, with lack of adequate shelter, with drug addiction and abuse. Parents who were left on the floor when they were children — ignored by their parents who had to choose — as one-third of mothers in this country do — between providing food or a clean diaper.”

Save the Children is an international NGO that raises money for, and lobbies for, children in need all over the world. In the U.S., the organization is heavily involved with advocating for government funding of early childhood education, particularly in rural and impoverished areas.

It is indisputable that childhood poverty is a problem in this country, with an estimated 15 million children in America living below the poverty line. What is not so clear, however, is whether or not more funding would result in better outcomes for children, or if (as the Heritage Foundation has found) more robust funding might not translate into real value for families in need.

Garner is not new to this sort of advocacy. She has been involved with Save the Children for nearly a decade. It speaks to her dedication that she is still doing this work in the middle of a high profile…divorce? Reconciliation? No one is quite sure. However, Page Six says she has called off her divorce from husband Ben Affleck. The pair announced their split in June of 2015, but nearly two years later they are still living together.

This is the sort of thing that Hollywood-watchers know about Jennifer Garner. But news of the reconciliation broke just as Garner was beginning to make her rounds on Capitol Hill, doing something far less sensational, but far more worthy of our attention and concern.

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